This week, we give advice on CVs ahead of the inevitable surge in recruitment activity at the start of the year.
“How should I do my CV?”
This is a fairly common question and it’s a hard one because the answer is “it depends”. If you have 5 recruitment consultants in a room, you’ll probably get about 10 opinions on what the ideal CV looks like.
However, we have noticed what works best for the tech industry and the types of roles for which Verify tends to recruit.
The standard advice is to tailor your CV to each position but realistically we know that doesn’t happen. A recruitment consultant contacts you via email or LinkedIn, you have a chat, and then you bang on the CV from your documents folder.
As we’ll nearly all be off for a week or two over the holidays, it might be a good time to dust off the old CV and prepare a new one for 2018. (and then email it to us!)
1) The “2-page CV” recommendation is a guideline.
Obviously, a 25-page long CV is a bit too long but if you have 15+ years of experience, it’s not going to fit on just two pages. We’ve seen CV’s in teeny tiny 8pt font to try to squeeze them down to fewer pages. It’s not necessary. As long as you are not including lots of pointless information, your CV can be longer than 2 pages while still being concise.
2) Think about the type of roles you would apply for if the opportunity arose.
Every study that we see tells me that 60-70% of developers are open to an interesting new role. What we call “passive candidates”. You’re not going out and looking for a new job but if someone approached you with a company and a role that sounded challenging and interesting, you might go for it.
So, tailor your CV to the type of role you would be interested in. If you want to take a step up to Architect position, write projects which accentuate those skills. If you want to work with Python even though you’re mostly a Java dev right now, talk about Python. Even though you are being approached, your CV still needs to be an advert for you and your experience. Write your CV with where you want to be rather than where you are in mind.
3) The personal statement is a little bit passé
We are a tiny bit biased because we sometimes find the personal statement very helpful when writing cover notes when sending a CV to clients – if a candidate has written 200 words about why they are a great Python Developer, it’s helpful to us.
However, you really should write a short cover letter for your application instead of having a bio. About 80% of bios are the same. 500 words of “I am an experienced (whatever) with strong technical skills. I can work easily alone or in a team. I am passionate about……” They’re full of subjective traits and far too long. Employers don’t learn anything about you from them. We mean, no one is going to write “I’m a great React developer but I’m chronically lazy”.
Only include one if you write something that targets precise points about your experience and skills. Again, target the types of roles you might be interested in. Ideally, this is a minimum area which you would tailor for each role.
4) Write about achievements not duties.
The most common thing we see on CV’s is a list of duties under each job that looks as if it was copy/pasted from a job spec. (We mean, it probably was?).
When writing about what you did in each job, think about the difference between you and the worst person ever to do your job. If you write a list of duties, there is no difference. The achievements are what makes you stand out. What projects did you complete? Did you push out new processes? Did you eventually stop everyone using CamelCase for variables? What did you literally DO? Highlight your individual impact, upskilling and team success.
5) The list of skills should go above experience.
This is our opinion, so you’ll likely hear the opposite somewhere else. However, when a HR person/Hiring Manager is doing the first two-minute scan of your CV, you want the list of technologies you know to leap out.
We only tend to feel the list of skills should go underneath experience if there are a huge number of them. You need your experience list to start on the first page so people can read that information early and unfortunately, by the time someone is scrolling to the second page, concentration is dipping.
While we’re talking about skills; limit the number of soft skills you write down. Everyone is a passionate, hard-working, professional, team-worker. If the soft skill is something that is an essential factor to be a functional human, you don’t need to write it down. We know you have it or we will at least hope you do!
6) Limit the amount of personal detail you include
The only personal details that should be on your CV are: Email address, Basic address. Phone number if you are happy to be called without notice.
You don’t need to include your exact address down to house number. The general area is fine. Putting your address on your CV is leftover from the days when you might mail in a job application. If the general area is there, then that gives recruiters an idea if the location of a role might suit. (If your CV is up on Monster or similar).
If you think the first question from a recruiter will be “What is your work permit status”, adding that information is helpful too.
You definitely don’t need to include: a photo of yourself, marital status, age, passport number, PPS number, number of children, or blood type. These are all things we’ve seen on CVs in the past 6 months!
Consider data security.
7) Don’t put your references details on your CV
On the subject of data security, don’t put the contact details of your references on your CV either.
You want to maintain control over when your references are contacted. If a company has to ask you for their details, then you can give them a heads-up that a call is incoming.
Recruiters can also use these contact details as leads. Anyone who is a reference is usually fairly senior and might be in a position to decide on hiring matters. You don’t want them getting a Business Development call from an agency they don’t want!
A last point and this might just be a bug bear of ours – but you don’t need to write “references available on request” on your CV either. It’s assumed references can be requested so you can save space by removing this line completely!
If you are thinking about making a change or would identify as a “passive candidate” then we would encourage you to take some time to update your CV. Jobs will rarely be obtained by a CV alone but they most certainly can be lost and a lot of that will come down to you not presenting yourself in the best manner.